Sustainable Workforce Development Network

Building Sustainable Career Pathways


The transition to a just and sustainable economy is the most challenging issues of the 21st century. It’s estimated that the transition to a sustainable economy will generate over 10 million new jobs over the next several years.

Creating a workforce development pipeline and an ecosystem for building a sustainable economy depends on strong partnerships between companies and local education systems, as well as the communities that would benefit from these jobs. What we’ve learned in our customized Stone Soup programs and our preliminary research is that the transition to the sustainable economy will be greatly accelerated by the development of sustainability-oriented certificates — and California is uniquely positioned to take advantage of a future sustainable economy. With the infrastructure that connects businesses, educational systems, and communities in need already in place, a visible pipeline for affordable 1 – 2 year technical certificates that provide good paying jobs and access to these fields for multicultural students in underserved communities is achievable. Beyond that, we intend to bring our proven model to a national media outlet to begin running a series on the sustainable economy and the need for national systems change regarding workforce development.

The Institute’s Impact to Date

For over 25 years, The Institute has developed innovative inclusive workforce development initiatives for multicultural youth in underserved communities, with a focus on the environmental and sustainability spheres. We have customized our Stone Soup model for Sustainable Workforce Development, which is aimed at filling these structural gaps in eight sites (including one in California) and has created partnerships to fill these needs. The goal is to build a pipeline for a sustainable workforce development ecosystem that connects high schools to community colleges to local jobs. Creating both a pipeline, and an ecosystem that raises awareness about these issues are equally important.

  • Sustainability-Oriented Certificates: For many of the underprivileged multicultural youth that we serve, costly four-year degrees are not accessible. With a pipeline for affordable 1-2 year technical certificates that provide good paying technical jobs, local community colleges can play an important role in helping us create access for these underserved communities while simultaneously addressing urgent issues of sustainability. With a clearer path to high-paying opportunities, we anticipate being able to help many more students find jobs in these burgeoning fields of need.

In multiple locations The Institute has custom-designed the Stone Soup Model, with CTE (Career & Technical Education) programming to empower high school students to pursue jobs in the sustainable economy. In this 10-week program, we use the stories, lesson plans, and videos from our book and educational curriculum Stone Soup for a Sustainable World to envision Sustainable Career Pathways for jobs with local companies.